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some days i wake up scared

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… and today was one of them. One nightmare, then a brief rising to the surface, then another. Each to do with unfounded reprimands from someone in authority; each time my response was whiny; each time I was told to “get out of my sight!!” When I finally adjusted to the morning light, I wanted to stay hidden into the bed’s womb: tiny and flawed.

Years ago a monastic teacher suggested What am I afraid of? as my life koan. Another saw nightmares as wake-up calls; my friend Arnie describes them as demons at the dharma gates. And dear old Rumi, the Persian mystic who seems to know everything that pertains to the heart, writes:

remember the water of life
is in the dark caverns
don’t be like a big fish
stopping the life’s flow
by standing in the mouth of a creek

I have my work cut out as I stand in the mouth of life’s creek: to let the koan wash through me. Perhaps it’ll reveal another secret today; perhaps it won’t.


6 responses »

  1. beautifully written. very thoughtful.
    i also feel that fear plays an integral part of our life, nightmares just a release for it, a way of bringing it to the surface, where we can deal with it.

    • thank you. yes, nightmares continue to guard that which seems important. Sometimes “dealing” with them, for me, means simply welcoming them. and vow to enter a little deeper into the unknown the next time around. xox

  2. Peter, omg. I wrote about fear in my blog for my New Year’s post… deleted the whole thing and posted something else instead. Not sorry for it, because it helped flesh out a very cool story idea I have. But at the same time, I was in a similar place to the one you describe.

    I love your koan – how incredible to discover it and know your life’s work. It makes me consider my own life koan. I’ve thought about it before – came up with something even, something along the lines of “who am i?”

    Thank you for sharing your journey. Thank you for being so honest and helping others touch that same level of honesty. You are a gift to us all.

    • “who am i?” … doesn’t get more direct as the question to ponder. say it over and over again, slowly, quietly. dear april, let each word sink in, below thinking mind. let it wash over and through you. resist easy answers.

      … and forget what I just told you :-).

  3. My dear Peter I have been thinking about you often. I have come by and read. I even tried to post once recently – but it was digested in cyber-space. I have experienced graphic nightmares since childhood. All who share my daily sleep space know I can rise at lighting speed to sitting upright – sometimes accompanied by an air siren scream. Needless to say, I’m a light sleep… and so is everyone in the house. Nightmares are no fun, however, I have come to welcome their gifts of insight. I like your life koan “what am I afraid of?” It feels like the right question for nightmares.

    • dear terrill, i’m glad to read your words. a message from deep inside mayne the nightmares we’ll meet, each oiher and our deepest truths. remind me of that the next time either of us jumps up in disarray. peace be upon you!


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